The Bell

October 6, 2018

Bobbi- What a 15 month whirlwind this has been. Chemo Abraxane, Gemzar, hair loss, no eyebrows, eyelashes, completely stripped of recognition. The only control I had was to shave my head when it was literally coming out in clumps. I remember walking from the bed to the kitchen and not sure if I would make it to the nearest chair. Having to sit on the floor of the shower because of not being strong enough to stand. My first thoughts when told I had pancreatic cancer were I will not be around in 6 months, a deadly diagnosis. How I felt then I did not care if I had a time limit on life. When on the brink the human spirit seems to dig deep within to survive. There was a chance that chemo would shrink my tumor and a Whipple surgery would be possible. How can one embrace a huge surgical procedure? I questioned if this would even occur. Next scan liver spots now facing possible metastatic disease, the lifeline was shorter. At time of biopsy spots are gone. WTH . More chemo. I have literally gone through health hell. When told Chemo indefinitely I was done, no more. The day after my decision the surgeon called, said scans were reviewed and I was a candidate for surgery. How would I endure this when I could barely stand? I trained starting with baby steps. Then I was walking a mile, at times having to sit on the side of the road to make it back. I had surgery March 27th and was out of the hospital March 30th. Was I ready to leave the hospital? I put on a warriors face and said I can and will do this, though was unsure. I walked and never stopped. One month after surgery I rode a radiation bus daily for 30 trips along with chemo, with my brother Steve fighting his cancer battle. That period of time we grew even closer. His wife Debbie always with encouraging love.

After my first chemo and radiation treatment, after the surgery, was spent in a motel getting sick for 12 hours. Probably should have gone to the hospital but was seeing doctor next day anyway. I was told I would have 4 more cycles of single agent chemo after chemo radiation was complete. Finally had about an inch of hair and lost it twice so I guess three times the charm. Remember pulling at my hair on day 14 and was shocked when none fell out. Maybe I will luck out this time. By this point the once revered hair mattered little. Never thought I would be writing at this point. Didn’t expect to make it through the ordeal but am so looking forward to my final chemo. Ring the bell. I did not fight alone there are too many champions behind me. My sister Lori and husband Jim came to many appointments and comforted me more times than can be counted. Remember being at her house when I was extremely ill lying in bed together, just being sisters. Our son Sean and wife Jen, who made many trips from Wisconsin with the grandkids were a HUGE motivation. Weekly messages with positive inspiring words from Jens Mother helped. Sharing calls with Shay, our Daughter halfway across the world going to school was a blessing.

My sister Chrissy always called after each treatment meant so much. Visits with brother Mike kept me cheerful and laughing. Meeting with my mother each week, with some really deep talks kept me grounded and feeling positive. All the friends in Wausau were in my corner! The doctors, nurses, social workers, financial assistant coordinator, the nutritionist who provided me with protein drinks and vitamins. The Hope Lodge in Grand Rapids was amazing, along with Surgeon Dr. Jill Onesti. Oncologist Dr. Elena Copolla, Becky Tom NP, and Dr. Boike, Andra, Wendy, from Karmanos were true miracle workers! I would have perished without everyone’s help. When humanity seems to be at all time lows there are people out there.

And of course Mike, my husband. Whose wise words of “worry does not change outcomes” will always stick in my mind when I get too far into the future with it. He was my trainer and coach. And he always told others we were oath keepers not caretakers when the word was brought up. We battled his serious health issues for 7 years, with me doing the same. Guess we do things big at our house, cancer and heart disease. Know his endurance was limited but he made meals, shopped, laundry, shaved my head (and his own), and many sleepless nights looking over me while I slept. Drove 180 miles once a week for over a year. Called hospitals, doctors, loved me, massaged my aching muscles and bones, the list goes on.

I just know today I am here and will spend my remaining days appreciating life. It is not what you have but who you have in your lives. I certainly didn’t fight this alone.

October 11th, 2018

The day finally arrived. We were in Petoskey just a couple days ago, I was the speaker at a survivors meeting, and was unsure what to share. I knew it was a good sign to be speaking at such a meeting. It really dawned on me that I was in fact now a survivor! I still had one more treatment and it’s all I could think about! And today was the day! Lori and Jim met us there, I had the first nurse I started out with, Melissa, and in the exact same chair and room of the first chemo treatment. After the treatment it felt like a ton of weight was lifted off my shoulders. There were many hugs, and when I rang the bell joy never felt before went through my body! We celebrated by going out to a wonderful deli. It feels so good to be alive.

The ride here was stormy and windy. The ride back the same until a giant rainbow appeared the closer we got to home. It was an amazing sight. The timing of it was like an out of the body experience.

There will still be future scans and doctor appointments. No big deal. Today was a good day, no… it was a great day!

October 9th, 2018

Mike- Bobbi spoke at a survivors group today, sharing her story. Many had tears. From barely being able to walk last Christmas to the woman today is a total transformation. So many thanks to everyone! During the talk it sunk in that we were very close to the end of this journey. I was so proud of her using her story to now helping others with their journey.

October 11th, 2018

Seeing Bobbi ring the bell today, having completed all treatments, was an unexplainable feeling. What a long 15 months it’s been. Over 10,000 miles traveled and we are finally done. Lori and Jim met us at the infusion center which was extra nice. Lori presented her with beautiful flowers and the entire experience felt surreal. When we arrived home, and alone we hugged and tears rolled down both our cheeks. Her writings did an excellent job sharing what took place. Glad we have a happy ending. So very proud of her. So grateful for this new chapter. So appreciative for all who have stood by our side with compassion and love. Thank you. Thank you Karmanos!

Today I’am a survivor! To all reading this I hope this inspires you in your battles. The worse odds and statistics matter little. Fight like you’ve never have before and lean on the lives around you. Don’t worry about tomorrow, just get through the one second, minute, hour, and the day you are in.

27 thoughts on “The Bell

  1. Amen amen amen – i decided to check up and look for a sign you were better and alive – and you’re not only alive but full of life. In tears I write this knowing you’ve been in my prayers. Though we don’t know one another except through cancer and writing with the hope to educate and elucidate those we love and those who we may never know personally. I’ll do my own cheers for you and ring a virtual bell. You’re one tough lady. And I do mean lady. My best to you’re most awesome amazingly supportive husband Mike. A truly spiritually fulfilling life lies ahead for both of you together and as individuals- I sound like a freakin tarot card reader so here I will end with this…
    And…Love is all that matters.
    Ilene
    The driver of the cancerbus.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So good to hear from you. Hope this finds you well. Cancer is quite a formidable foe digging deep for strength many times. Love for family and friends keeps me going. A sense of humor carries us far keep writing Ilene your words are inspiring and you are not alone.Finishing Chemo is like a double edged sword at times. I refuse to let cancer consume my thoughts or ruin my day, for indeed it is my day! The foot prints we leave behind are decided by us. Wish you strength and hugs. Love Bobbi

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bobbi – humor indeed keeps the smile from fading and even in dark times, which may not come often but when they do they’re all encompassing, still my sick humor completely trips anyone in it’s wake. Wake the boat tail kind not the eulogy kind.

        Here’s to you 🥂
        Stay in touch. It’s important as you know that like a beautiful bird your inspiration spread it’s wings and fly over to land where there’s people who are desperate to see the meaning of the word hope isn’t lost.

        I cannot tell you how happy I am for you. You’re a woman warrior.

        And #fuckcancer

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bobbi, you have been in my thoughts and prayers since you started this journey. I’ve read your blog eagerly and am so thrilled how far you’ve come. Your spirit and will and determination are inspirational though I bet that’s not what you had in mind. I’ve always admired your strength at work and the love and commitment you and Mike share. Thank you for sharing your life with us. The tears today are of joy. The photos you share show your beauty inside and out. God bless you and your loving family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just read your last post. My heart is full of joy for you. You truly are an inspiration to many. And you look really beautiful in each of those photos of you – hair or no hair.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Bobbi…you are in our continual prayers!!! Please know I care and surround you and your husband with love and hugs!! Think of you so often and recall (not always easy at my age) the fun we had at work…you were always so kind to a “new” nurse. Enjoy this beautiful autumn season with the wind…rain….beautiful leaves…..YOU are alive!!! xxoo Barb J.

    Liked by 1 person

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